Friendship & Flying

48aa26496a63a9483ed1cba35932e4b8On a road trip with my sister this month I read Wind, Sand, and Stars by Antoine De Saint-Exupery (author of The Little Prince). It’s basically an autobiography of the author’s adventures in flight. We both enjoyed the excitement!

“Recipient of the Grand Prix of the Academie Francaise, Wind, Sand and Stars is unsurpassed in capturing the grandeur, danger, and isolation of flight. Its exciting account of air adventure—through the treacherous passes of the Pyrenees, above the Sahara, along the snowy ramparts of the Andes—combined with the lyrical prose and soaring spirit of a philosopher, make this book one of the most popular works ever written about flying.” –Overview from back cover

This book won the National Book Award and is called “A National Geographic Top Ten Adventure Book of All Time.” As one who adores beautifully written stories, who’s dreamed of flying, and who enjoys thoughts of philosophy, I think this story lives up to its high praise. It’s well written, thought provoking, exciting, and fun. Here’s a bit about friendship and human relationships:

. . . So in the heart of the desert, on the naked rind of the planet, in an isolation like that of the beginnings of the world, we built a village of men.
Sitting in the flickering light of the candles on this kerchief of sand, on this village square, we waited in the night. We were waiting for the rescuing dawn—or for the Moors. Something, I know not what, lent this night a savor of Christmas. We told stories, we joked, we sang songs. In the air there was the slight fever that reigns over a gaily prepared feast. And yet we were infinitely poor. Wind, sand, and stars. The austerity of Trappists. But on this badly lighted cloth, a handful of men who possessed nothing in the world but their memories were sharing invisible riches.
We had men at last. Men travel side by side for years, each locked up in his own silence or exchanging those words which carry no freight—till danger comes. Then they stand shoulder to shoulder. They discover that they belong to the same family. They wax and bloom in the recognition of fellow beings. They look at one another and smile. They are like the prisoner set free who marvels at the immensity of the sea.
Happiness! It is useless to seek it elsewhere than in this warmth of human relationships. Our sordid interests imprison us within their walls. Only a comrade can grasp us by the hand and haul us free.
And these human relationships must be created. One must go through an apprenticeship to learn the job. Games and risk are a help here. When we exchange manly handshakes, compete in races, join together to save one of us who is in trouble, cry aloud for help in the hour of danger—only then do we learn that we are not alone on earth.
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